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Maroons surprised by Hayne's absence

Wayne Heming 16/05/2011 07:39:12 PM Comments (0)

Queensland coach Mal Meninga says the Maroons aren't doing backflips after learning NSW had left dynamic fullback Jarryd Hayne and giant centre Jamal Idris out of their 17-man State of Origin side.

"He would be in Queensland's team somewhere," said a former Queensland great, echoing the initial reaction of many to Hayne's stunning Origin omission.

"How many bad Origins has he played?"

But while NSW fans and many Queenslanders were shocked Blues selectors could not find places for two of the game's most dangerous players, Meninga backed his NSW counterpart Ricky Stuart.

Meninga said Stuart had been around Origin and had enjoyed enough success to know the type of player he needed to win.

Queensland have found the perfect formula after winning the past five Origin series in a row, which is why worried NSW officials asked Stuart - the last man to take the Blues to a 2-1 series win in 2005 - to return the passion and pride to the Blues jumper.

"Not really," offered Meninga when asked by AAP if he was surprised Hayne and Idris had not made Stuart's squad.

"He (Stuart) and I think Bozo (Bob Fulton) have picked a side based on a fair bit of character really.

"Origin's built on character. Ricky knows that.

"He understands that, he's played it (14 games), he's coached at that level.

"He's picked a team he believes is going to turn their fortunes around."

Meninga's 30-year affair with Origin - he played 32 games, including the first match in 1980 - and his close relationship with his former Canberra and Australian teammate gives him a much deeper insight into Stuart's mindset.

Raiders fullback Josh Dugan will make his debut in the No.1 jumper for the Blues ahead of Hayne with Stuart also preferring a Penrith flyer Michael Jennings on the left to wrecking ball Idris, a right-side centre.

Meninga said the NSW side possessed ample aggression, a good work rate and plenty of character.

It had been hand picked by Stuart to do a special job.

"Ricky has picked a team for Origin who'll hang tough under pressure and show the character you need," said Meninga.

"It's going to be a huge challenge for us."

Idris made his debut for Australia earlier this month at left centre when Inglis re-injured his hip, scoring a barnstorming try.

Many expected the raw-boned youngster would secure a Blues Origin jumper on the strength of his Test against the Kiwis, but Stuart wanted a specialist left centre in Jennings, who is yet to really light up in three Origins.

"Idris, Jamie Lyon and (Mark) Gasnier, all those guys are right-handed players and Gasnier got the nod there," said Meninga.

"I can understand why he's done that (picked Jennings) this particular time."

Meninga said even without tough Dragons prop Michael Weyman, the NSW pack looked strong and hard working.

"Trent Merrin and Tim Mannah won't let him down," said Meninga when asked about Weyman's absence.

"Merrin is untried at that level but he's been doing it week in and week out for the Dragons and there's clearly a Dragon feel to the NSW side."

Queensland, meanwhile, have returned 100kg bookend back-rowers Corey Parker and Jacob Lillyman on the bench to ensure they can bend back the Blues as they hammer them up the middle third.

Both can push up into the front row, which will help Meninga's prop rotation and they can stand their ground and tackle all night in the middle.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

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